Sri Lanka’s governments had in the past discussed upscaling organic farming in the country. But it was the President, who announced National Agriculture Policy 2021 with a plan to increase organic fertiliser use from 1% to 30% within three years.
With a majority of farmers yet to learn and start organic farming, at present only 2.8 per cent of total agricultural land is organic. Though actual number of farmers practising organic and natural farming can be higher as only certified organic farmers get counted.
A smooth transition from chemical-based farming to organic or natural farming needs a well-thought plan. The government lacks a roadmap and transition plan, and the decision to shift to organic farming appears to be taken under economic compulsion.
However civil society and organisations promoting organic and natural farming are happy about the announcement by the government to go organic.
It can take a farmer 3-5 years to shift to organic farming completely and an entire village might take 5-8 years. But many farmers want to shift to organic farming and lack proper support.
The coverage will increase gradually, only after farmers change their mindset and learn to adopt organic practices, it should however be voluntary.
At present the government is promoting organic fertilisers and increasing farmer awareness. Financial incentives of Rs 12,500 per hectare up to a maximum of two hectares will be provided to farmers to encourage organic farming. Further the government has formulated the mechanism to provide organic fertiliser required for the maha season.
President has instructed officials to import the required quantity of high quality organic fertiliser if the quantity of fertiliser produced locally is not sufficient. The government has allocated Rs 3.8 billion for the purchase of organic fertilisers in the coming season.
Addition to subsidy and provision of organic fertilisers during the transition period the government is also focusing on capacity building of important stakeholders like farmers, agriculture department officials and scientists.
In this scenario, it is hoped that organic farming would be more viable than chemical-based farming in terms of yield, nutritious quality food production, ecological and economic sustainability!